DJ Yoda Interviewed: "Autotuned Pop Is The Musical Equivalent Of Junk Food"

He's DJ royalty and got a spectacular gig coming up at the Roundhouse, but more than anything he's concerned with the evolution of his music and live shows...
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He's DJ royalty and got a spectacular gig coming up at the Roundhouse, but more than anything he's concerned with the evolution of his music and live shows...

DJ Yoda is a very busy man. With new album Chop Suey out in less than a week and a massive, highly anticipated AV Spectacular show to prepare for in his hometown of London, Yoda is once again proving himself to be one of the most hardworking, innovative DJs out there. Named by Q as one the top 10 acts to see before you die, the AV shows involve him branching out from just music and mixing and scratching visuals onto a huge cinema screen, with everything from classical tunes, the Muppets, 80s hip-hop or Star Wars scenes going into the mix.  I caught up with him ahead of his upcoming London AV show on Nov 10th to talk about DJing, what the future holds and his thoughts on music right now.

ST: All your shows are epic but you’re calling your AV show on the 10th a Spectacular; anything we should we be looking out for?

I’m arranging all manners of surprises for this London gig, it’s my home town, the place where I first ever DJ’d so it’s an exciting place to play for me. I feel like if you looked at a world map of where my fans are – London and the UK are probably where most of them live so I’m pushing myself hard.  I guess I can tell you now; I’ve got Boy George to agree to perform our single together on stage – that’s one surprise given away...

You’ve said in the past you like your shows to be mostly new material with classics thrown in. With a new album to include and guest performers and AV to think about...how long is it taking you to prepare for this show?

I’m constantly working on my AV show, it’s like my DJ sets now, it constantly evolves - week by week. You know I can suddenly see something cool, I’ll sit down for five minutes and watch a bit of a movie or a TV show and something grabs me and I just have to throw it in the show.

So it’s true what they say about you being one of the hardest working DJs out there...

It’s interesting because my whole philosophy behind the live shows and DJing and my AV sets and everything I do, is that if people are going to pay and see someone, and you as a DJ are going somewhere and taking a show with your name on, you need to make an effort to do something that is worth people paying for. I see a lot of DJs these days that turn up and press play on something, which is shocking. I hate it. It’s offensive to me, as someone who spends a lot of time practising my art and getting as good as I can

There must be a lot of music and DJs out there that are winding you up at the moment then?  

You’ll know what I mean though when I say I’m not a fan of identikit, autotuned pop, R’n’B  and trance. I can’t stand it.  It’s the musical equivalent of junk food isn’t it? Like McDonalds for your ears.

OK, on the flip side then, what music is impressing you at the moment?

I like that over the past year that hip hop is getting good again. I grew up on it and it inspired me as a kid but the past couple of years, like in 2010, wow...there was some truly awful stuff coming out, I was almost losing my faith but now there’s great stuff surfacing again. Like this past couple of weeks, you’ve got Kendrick Lamar’s album which is amazing, and ActionBronson who is on the album as well and he just makes me think, thank God someone’s come out that is doing good rap music.

You’ve mentioned Action Bronson and Boy George already  - are there people out there you’d like to collaborate with that you can’t pin down?

Yeah, there are always people. I‘ve had like a list - right from the first album and then I try get those people to end up on the album I’m working on. So I try to work with people that inspired me as a kid right up to the present day; on this album I've got Boy George, Kid Creole and the Coconuts and Michael Winslow from Police Academy, and then you’ve got the Nineties covered by M.O.P and Greg Knight, 'til we’re back in the present with Man Like Me.

You constantly raise the bar on your albums, at your shows...where are you going to take it next? Can we expect DJ Yoda 3D shows?

Anything that I can use to be advancing the form of DJing into new areas is something that interests me. I have been thinking about 3D stuff recently and I’ve gone as far to have a few meetings with people and I have realised that it’s going to be absolutely amazing for me to play with – in a few years time. The technology just isn’t there yet to do with what I want to do with it.

So with the idea of taking DJ'ing out of a club, you’ve been doing YouTube Fridays where you were offering upa new AV mix every week on YouTube. Is this just the starting point? Are there any plans to go truly interactive? A DJ Yoda app perhaps?

Yeah an app would be really cool! It could be a really interesting, different way to interact with stuff for sure. Like, the whole YouTube thing, it’s like, YouTube. Y’know? I love YouTube. It’s an infinite bank of samples and its great ‘cus I get people tweeting me and Facebooking me and saying "have you seen this clip? You might wanna throw this in a show!" Half the time they’re right and I do. People send it, I look for it, and I notice stuff and it all just works together like that which is amazing.

Finally, any final words for Sabotage Times?

Yeah thank you for reading and caring and keep an eye out for Chop Suey and I’ll hopefully catch some of you at the AV show – thanks guys!

Tickets for Yoda's AV Spectacular are available from here


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